The 15 Best HR Books of All Time (Including New Releases and Classics)

As Steve Jobs once said, “Learn continually. There’s always one more thing to learn.” HR pros know this better than anyone. With changes in labor laws, emerging workplace trends, and the differing needs and personalities of the people you work with, staying on top of your game requires constant learning.

To accompany you on your learning journey, we’ve handpicked some of the best new releases, along with some classic HR books that should be on every HR pro’s desk. Everything we’ve recommended will help you sharpen your skills, keep up with changing trends, and learn from diverse perspectives.

The Basic HR Books Every Pro Should Keep on Their Desk

The Essential HR Handbook, 10th Anniversary Edition: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional

By Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell

This perennial bestseller is the HR book many HR professionals reach for when navigating a question or a problem comes up. Newly updated in 2020, it offers a wealth of information and advice on just about every HR topic under the sun, including hiring, firing, telework, managing a diverse workforce, creating compensation packages, and avoiding legal pitfalls. Find best practices that help you attract talented workers, create positive relationships between employees and managers, and navigate HR issues in today’s complex business environment.

The Big Book of HR

By Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem

The Big Book of HR covers just about every topic under the HR umbrella. Technology for today’s digital workplaces? Check. Diversity, equity, and inclusion? Check. Employee development strategy? Check! Whether just starting out in HR or wanting to brush up on the basics, this book is a comprehensive resource to have on hand.

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HR Books to Help You Curate Culture

Unleashing the Power of Diversity: How to Open Minds for Good

By Bjorn Z. Ekelund

Today, employees expect modern workplaces to be diverse and inclusive. This HR book shows you how to strengthen your organization by improving communication between people who have different cultural backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. You’ll learn how to use the Diversity Icebreaker, a tool that has helped more than 250,000 people around the world break down barriers and build unity and trust. This book is designed to help workplaces of every size and industry manage and sustain diverse teams.

Rituals for Work: 50 Ways to Create Engagement, Shared Purpose, and a Culture that Can Adapt to Change

By Kursat Ozenc and Margaret Hagan

This HR book will help you see your workplace with fresh eyes by focusing on rituals. A ritual is an action that is always done in a similar fashion in a particular situation. It can be as simple as a daily standup meeting in the office or as elaborate as a university’s graduation ceremony. Ozenc and Hagan argue that rituals have a unique power in the workplace to make things more meaningful and create lasting bonds between people. Drawing on deep research, this guide explains how to use rituals to transform an organization’s culture, achieve goals, foster innovation, strengthen teamwork, and replace negative behaviors with positive habits.

The Drama-Free Workplace: How You Can Prevent Unconscious Bias, Sexual Harassment, Ethics Lapses, and Inspire a Healthy Culture

By Patti Perez

The title says it all. Sooner or later, most organizations will confront these difficult issues, possibly leading to low morale, a broken culture, and in some cases, legal action. This HR book helps you anticipate and avoid many forms of workplace misconduct—and be ready with solutions. Learn simple, practical ways to make your workplace healthier, improve compliance training, and communicate more effectively about sensitive topics at work, among other essential skills.

Bring Your Human to Work: 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That Is Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World

By Erica Keswin

In an age when technology often isolates us, it’s more important than ever to foster strong human connections at work. A Wall Street Journal bestseller, this book puts the human in human resources. It teaches you how to create a more personable workplace, with inspiring real-life examples. Learn how to honor and strengthen workplace relationships in ways that will help your organization and everyone in it flourish.

Culture Decks Decoded: Transform Your Culture into a Visible, Conscious, and Tangible Asset

By Bretton Putter

What do some of the most successful companies around know about culture—and what can we learn from them? This HR book analyzes acclaimed culture decks from Netflix, LinkedIn, Etsy, and other firms to show you how to build a culture that helps your organization and your employees achieve their full potential.

Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces: How to Unleash Everyone’s Talent and Performance

By Jennifer B. Kahnweiler

If your company culture recognizes employee performance primarily through loud and public means, some of your most important contributors may be screaming internally. And that’s not the only way introverted employees may be underserved by your workplace. Read this book for insights on how to create a workplace that suits all types of workers and personalities.

The Best HR Books to Make You More Strategic

People Processes: How Your People Can Be Your Organization’s Competitive Advantage

By Rhamy Alejeal

Here’s an HR book that explains what we at BambooHR have known for years: technology can free HR professionals from paperwork so they can spend more time helping people be exceptional and satisfied employees. Learn how HR software can streamline onboarding, payroll, benefits, compliance, reporting, and more. Then, follow a helpful step-by-step roadmap that takes you from fact-finding to HR management system rollout in only 100 days.

People Analytics for Dummies

By Mike West

“Dummies” books are famous for making complicated subjects easy to understand, and this volume is no exception. It explains a variety of essential people analytics tools and tactics for creating a great place to work. You’ll learn how data can help you know who to hire, where to focus resources, what increases commitment and motivation, how to keep employees satisfied, and more. If you want to make key personnel decisions based on facts instead of gut feelings, this book is worth considering.

The New HR Leader’s First 100 Days

By Alan Collins

Although geared toward helping HR leaders in new roles hit the ground running, this HR book can help anyone—new, veteran, generalist, or c-level—make a meaningful impact in their organization. Alan Collins, former VP of Human Resources at PepsiCo, lays out strategies for making powerful first impressions, building the trust of business leaders, and more.

HR Books to Help You Get The Right People in The Door—And Keep Them There

Talent Keepers: How Top Leaders Engage and Retain Their Best Performers

By Christopher Mulligan and Craig Taylor

How can you attract and keep great people when competition is fierce? What will inspire your employees? Are you doing enough to adapt to the changing workforce? In this HR book, you’ll find research-backed answers and proven, practical strategies for launching a plan to energize your workforce and help keep your most impactful people committed to your organization.


By Geoff Smart and Randy Street

In this New York Times bestseller, the authors tackle a problem most HR pros are quite familiar with: unsuccessful hiring. After countless interviews and hours of research, authors Geoff Smart and Randy Street came up with the A Method for Hiring, a methodology that lays the foundation for hiring. In Who, you’ll learn about the A Method and how it was created.

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HR Books to Promote Growth and Development

Performance Management for Dummies

By Herman Aguinis

Another “Dummies” classic to add to your list of HR books! Learn how to define and measure the performance of individuals and teams, help each person grow, and align performance with your organization’s goals. Whether you want to learn the basics or refine an established performance management system, this book covers it all.

101 Tough Conversations to Have with Employees: A Manager’s Guide to Addressing Performance, Conduct, and Discipline Challenges

By Paul Falcone

One of the unfortunate realities of any HR role—you’re going to have to have some tough conversations. This book gives examples of tough conversations along with examples of how to tackle them. Whether you’re having the conversation yourself or facilitating a manager, having tried & true tactics will help you approach it with confidence. One book reviewer said that she gifts a copy of this book to all new managers!

Go Beyond the Best HR Books

Want more? Some of the best HR books might not even be traditional books! BambooHR has an ever-expanding library of free HR content including ebooks, white papers, infographics, guides, and more.

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